Cox & Co
Cox & Co
Date Made/Found: around 1965
Material and Medium: stainless steel and horn
Dimensions: Overall: 15 x 24 x 214mm (9/16 x 15/16 x 8 7/16in.)
Department: Decorative Art
Accession Number: 1969.702
This is a set of stainless steel steak knives from around 1965. They were made in Sheffield by Cox & Co, at their premises at the Hutton Buildings on West Street.
The handles are made of pressed horn, which was a popular material for hafting cutlery due to its strength and low cost in comparison to mother of pearl or ivory. Specialist craftsmen would usually make horn handles and scales.
The working of buffalo horn was a highly skilled process and many Sheffield companies specialised in this area of manufacture during the 1800s. Buffalo horn was often soaked for months to ease its separation it from the horn core. The horns would then be sorted according to size and quality and cut into lengths. They would then be soaked again in oil or water to soften them, before being heated over a fire to become malleable.
The pieces of horn were then pulled open using pincers and pressed flat between hot iron plates. The greater the pressure used, the thinner the sheet of horn produced. The pressed horn would then be passed onto a craftsman for making into articles or was often exported.
After being made into a finished object, the horn would be polished using a fine abrasive, followed by chamois leather or the hand to give a final sheen. Horners were working in Sheffield from the 1200s onwards, as well as in London and York.